Who else is terrible at making and sticking to a budget? Budgets seem to be one of those daunting tasks that make adulthood so stressful. It's just easier to ignore it all and hope for the best. Unfortunately waiting to see how it all turns out ends up with a mountain of debt and no way to pay it. So if you can take the time to set a budget you will actually save yourself time in the future. Here are some of the best free resources we found to help plan a budget and tips for keeping it that will help you have better control of your money.
Step One: Figure out what luxuries you can cut back on?
Simple things like making a lunch instead of buying a lunch, cutting out bottled water, and making your coffee at home can save you a lot! This chart shows estimates of how much a year you are spending on potential non-essential things. Even if your coffee is only $3 a day, if you get one every day that's over $1000. Imagine what you could do with that extra cash!
Step Two: Try out a FREE budgeting software
Not all of us are super great at doing all the calculations, so why not use some of the awesome free tools the internet has given us! There are so many websites and phone apps that let you track your money easily and effectively. One of the most popular is one called Mint that you can track on your computer or on your phone. Or there are others like Calender Budget, or You Need A Budget, or countless others that you can try out for free and figure out which one works best for you.
OR Try out the old pen-and-paper method
Either make your own or check out Pinterest to find what one suits your style best. This one from Strawberry Mommy Cakes is a cute, colorful page that will trick you into thinking budgets are fun!
Step Three: Figure out what you should actually be spending
The problem I always run into with budgets is that I don't know what I should be spending on things like groceries. I mean, you gotta eat - right! If you try to cut out too much too fast you are going to get really cranky really fast and then give up. First you should find out what you spend and then according to people who are better with money than me, you should reduce it by 20%. So if you have been spending 1000% a month on groceries, you should start by reducing it to $800. That way it will force you to shop sales, check prices, and maybe even taking advantage of coupons. There is no shame in coupons!
Step Four: Plan ahead for future expense
You know it is only September, but if you start saving now you won't have those dreaded January credit card bills from Christmas. If you plan ahead and set aside money each week or per paycheck you can be ready the next time you have a car problem, or need a haircut, or even to save for a vacation. If you break down the total amount and then spread it across a long period time it's not a huge deal.
Step Five: Set goals so you have something to look forward to!
Make it something you are truly looking forward to. Like a big vacation, a down payment on a house, or something bigger; then put it in your budget so that you start saving. When you have finally saved enough you will feel so proud of yourself that all the scrimping and saving will be totally worth it.
Step Six: Continue to update your budget as often as need be and keep it up!
If you find the way you have your budget set up isn't working for you or it is too annoying to fill out, find a new way. Just keep making it a priority to spend the time to find what works because it will help you so much in the long run. There are endless options online with so many different ways to monitor your money, one of them is bound to work for you.